• Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

The population of a tiny outback town in the south-western corner of Queensland more than tripled over the weekend as crowds flocked


May 23, 2021

The population of a tiny outback town in the south-western corner of Queensland more than tripled over the weekend as crowds flocked to see Australia’s premier wool-shearing competition.

The Bulloo Shire community ran live music, markets and pig racing as part of the outback festival in Thargomindah, attracting more than 1,000 people into a town with a population of about 270 people.

“I’m over the Moon,” Bulloo Shire Mayor John Ferguson declared.

He said the support for the event had been “absolutely unbelievable”.

Onlookers watching the shearers competition in Thargomindah.

Shearers from every state in Australia gathered for The Shearers Shindig to battle it out for the title of Australia’s best.

There were about 80 competitors — men and women — who took part in the open events.

There were also categories for beginner and intermediate shearers, allowing younger people to also take part.

“All [of those] people bring money into this little community,” Cr Ferguson said.

“All [of] our caravan parks are full, our accommodation houses are full, there’s people camped on the river … they’re everywhere.”

The Bulloo council funds the annual event in a joint effort with Queensland’s outback tourism events program.

Competitors share $25,000 in prize money.

About 80 shearers took part in the open categories.

Cr Ferguson said this year’s event put the region back on the map after a year of struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.

“Particularly after COVID, this has been an absolute shot in the arm for us,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The comments [we are] getting about the town, ‘What a lovely little town’, ‘I didn’t really know it was here’, ‘I didn’t know what to expect’.

“It’s really, really important that we keep getting this sort of funding out here.”

The shearers competed in a State of Origin category, a Trans-Tasman Shear-Off, as well in intermediate and beginner categories.

New Zealand-born shearer Jovan Taiki fleeced a sheep in 29 seconds to take out the open male category.

Mr Taiki said he had been living in Longreach for 13 years with his wife and children.

Jovan Taiki took out the open men’s shearing competition.

“[The win] felt good considering the calibre of the boys that are here,” Mr Taiki said.

“You wouldn’t have ever heard of them, but when you’re in this deep … you know who you’re up against.”

Mr Taiki competed against world champion Lou Brown, another New Zealand-born shearer.

More than 1,000 people turned out for this year’s shearing competition in Thargomindah.

But Mr Brown was controversially disqualified by shearing officials midway through the event, after missing a full staple of wool on his sheep.

But his 2019 record — shearing just under 500 sheep in one eight-hour session — remains a competition record.

‘It’s fun’

New Zealand woman Amy Silcock won the open female competition in just over 55 seconds.

Amy Silcock competed in the open women’s shearing category.

Ms Silcock said she had the competition “pretty down” after sheering in Australia for several years.

“I’ve been shearing about seven years … this is about year number five [I’ve come here],” she said.

“I think it’s fun.”

Ms Silcock broke a world record last year, shearing 2,066 sheep in a nine-hour day with a team of three other women.

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